The HSE reports that in 2015-16, half a million HGV drivers suffered from work-related anxiety, depression, or stress. Over the years, those stats have continued to increase. Today, 30% of self-reported work-related health issues in the logistics and transport industry are the result of anxiety, depression, and stress (although it is thought that this number might be higher). Even today, there is a stigma regarding mental health, and 95% of employees who call in sick from stress often give a different reason for their illness. Also, 22% of employees have been diagnosed with having a mental health issue, but under 50% have informed their employers about their problem.
Reasons Why Mental Health is so Important
In the past, mental health was a taboo subject. These issues could not be talked about, and if you had struggles with your mental health, it was considered to be unseemly to admit that you had these types of problems. Fortunately, things have changed, and it is a lot more common to have discussions regarding mental health. However, without positive conversations and care for mental health, the HGV could end up losing many good drivers and good people. Training for a category c licence is very difficult, and convincing people to replace the masses of drivers with mental health issues is not really an option. Also, mental health problems cost the UK logistics industry as much as £100 billion.
HGV driver jobs have many stresses associated with them – physical tiredness, mental fatigue, tight deadlines, traffic, night shifts, difficult working hours – all play havoc on a person’s mental health at home as well as at work. Another factor that can come into play is being unable to exercise, which is one of the best natural anti-depressants for the human body. This all creates a stressful and difficult environment for people to work in.
Another factor at play is the gender divide. From a statistical standpoint, men are a lot less likely to discuss their mental health problems compared to women and prefer suffering in silence instead. That is true in a majority of industries but is particularly prevalent within the transport industry. That isolation means that conditions such as depression and stress are likely to worsen if they are not treated in a timely manner.
It isn’t too surprising that one of the top mental health problems that are reported by HGV drivers is loneliness. They are, after all, away from their loved ones and home for long periods of time, sometimes for many days, and this type of separation can really take a toll on you in many ways. Frequently, HGV drivers report that they don’t feel they have a personal life, and only seeing friends and family for fleeting visits or brief periods of time can take a huge toll on their well-being and mental health.
What Can You Do to Help?
How can you ensure that your own HGV drivers, as well as others, have their mental health properly taken care of as a priority? The following are a couple of important tips:
Discuss it! One of the biggest and most important pieces of advice that we can give to you is to talk about it. It will make the biggest difference out of all of the tips. Discussing the problem can truly go a long way towards resolving it. There is currently a culture regarding mental health (especially among men), that you should not discuss your problems.
However, in attempting to deal with mental health issues by yourself rather than seeking out help can mean that you suffer unnecessarily. Speak to your manager, your supervisor, or your co-workers about the problems you are going through, and what needs to be done in order for you to enjoy good mental health.
Maximise the time you have with your family. Depending on what kind of driving you do, you may not be able to spend as much time as you want with your family. Do your best to make the most out of the time that you do have with your children, spouse, and other family members so you can benefit from it. And keep in mind that children will frequently remember the quality and not the quantity of the time that you spend together.